This week’s letters

Women at the top should get a slap for their bare-faced cheek

I am committed to my career and keen to climb as high up the ladder as is
feasible. If this means I have to change companies to advance my promotion
prospects, so be it. Soon, I may be hunting for a job. Therefore I was
absolutely appalled at the results of a survey, highlighted under the headline
"Slap on the face for ambitious babes" (News, 13 January), showing
that a quarter of employers admit they are more likely to hire a woman who
wears make-up than one who goes without.

I don’t wear make-up, and have never been criticised for looking the worse
for wear. So my first reaction was that the responses to the survey
overwhelmingly came from men.

Sadly not. According to your article, it was mostly female directors who had
the biggest problem with hiring bare-faced women! I’m sometimes partial to a
tiny bit of slap for evening events, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to be
forced to pile it on, because some woman who thinks she has to immitate the
worst excesses of a man to justify her position at the top of the pile doesn’t
think I am making enough effort if I don’t.

I truly believe I am well turned out and appear groomed enough without
make-up and yes, I DO make an effort to look good and professional for work. I
am simply not going to go out and spend a chunk of my hard-earned salary on
some gunk to smear on my face each morning (taking out yet another 10 minutes
from a crowded schedule) just to appeal to bosses who should know better.

What happens to the poor women who are allergic to the stuff? Will they be
consigned to a scrap heap, unemployed and with notices hanging around their
necks, saying: "Could do better"? I am surprised any women agreed to
take part in such a discriminatory survey at all. What happened to women’s solidarity?
No wonder we’re still battling for equal rights, equal pay and seats on the

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Join our campaign to achieve balance

We were so pleased to hear about the launch of Stephen Overell’s Campaign
for Leisure (CfL) (Off Message, 20 January) and feel it will be a useful ally
in our own campaign to bring more balance into all our lives.

As Stephen concedes, work has its place in our lives and most of us need to
earn money to pay for our leisure pursuits, keep a roof over our head and the
wolf from the door. But, for many, it has come to dominate our lives to the
extent that, for example, a third of fathers hardly see their children during
the working week, let alone have time for Stephen’s golf or go-karting. As for
the "contemplative life" Stephen so temptingly describes, that seems
like an impossible dream amid all "the getting and spending" and
general "life-maintenance" that most of us have to squash into our

Our new organisation – Working Families – will be campaigning for everyone
to have the chance to pay their bills and do satisfying work, while also having
time to spend with and care for their families – and yes, have time for
themselves too. We are calling for more humane working hours that allow us to
fulfil ourselves as parents, as grandparents, as sons and daughters and as
friends, as well as individuals with all sorts of interests. After all,
although Stephen may feel this is "feeding the beast work", we know
well-rounded people with happy family lives make more productive workers, too.

So we hope all members of the CfL will join us at our launch conference The
Changing Face of Family Life on Saturday, 7 February (more details on our
website – www.workingfamilies.org.uk) to help us press our case.

Sarah Jackson
Chief Executive, Working Families

Many benefits of a reservist workforce

As a former section commander (sergeant) in the parachute light infantry, I
could immediately identify with the benefits detailed in the article on army
reservists (6 January).

I endorse the view that military service can help instill professionalism,
commitment, motivation, teamwork, and inter-personal skills in the workplace.
For instance, many of the fundamental tenants of the Army leadership training
and experience I had as a paratrooper at 21 have been of direct use and benefit
to me as a business manager.

Far from producing the type of scary geek featured in the television comedy
series, The Office, the pragmatic leadership approach of the armed forces
combined with insightful psychological tools and techniques can develop
effective and authentic leaders ready to face the challenges of modern

Lawrence Holsworth
Marketing manager, OPP Limited.

Appeal proves to be just a cruel hoax

It seems you may have been taken in by a hoax with your story on the world
record bid for John Craggs (9 December).

If you look at the website www.20six.co.uk/weblogEntry/135cyquzk22po, you
will see that this hoax has been going on for some time, starting years ago
using the name Craig Shergold.

I have worked in HR for more than 30 years and during this period I have
been horrified by the number of times I have been sent letters from other
companies asking for either letters, business cards or compliments slips to be
sent out to numerous seven-year-old terminally ill boys.

I hope you will make people aware of what is going on – something has to
happen to stop these cruel hoaxes.

Sandra Collins
Personnel Director, River Plastics Ltd

Editor’s reply: Just before Christmas, we received an
authentic-looking letter seeking compliment slips for a terminally ill young
boy. The letter claimed he was collecting them in a bid to beat a world record.
Caught up in the season of goodwill, we published the story, but subsequently
found we were the victims of a hoax. We received a flood of letters similar to
yours, telling us of our mistake, and have since published a warning to our
readers not to send compliment slips to "John Craggs". Thanks to
everyone who took the trouble to write to Personnel Today about the matter, and
apologies to anyone inconvenienced.

Outsourcing abroad has huge impact

Your report (‘Job cuts likely as firms look to export HR roles’, News, 25
November), highlights a concern about the phenomenon of outsourcing that is now
threatening the HR profession. In management terms outsourcing may be a welcome
solution to rising costs, labour skills and legislation problems. But the human
aspect of outsourcing should not be brushed aside.

Outsourcing of jobs, of whatever skill, has a huge impact on staff morale
and upon communities. Furthermore, such outsourced jobs have a damaging effect
on the societies to which they are exported.

In India, for example, there is concern that such jobs (call centres,
transcription services and now even human resource jobs) are luring young
educated people away from the jobs that they trained for.

This is simply because such outsourced and locally irrelevant jobs pay much
better, compared to the jobs the local communities require.

It is not uncommon to find a highly skilled graduate manning a call centre
helpline, with his skills lost to the local societies.

This is a threat to the HR profession. Influential HR personnel should find
an opportunity to persuade the decision-makers to look at this issue with a
wider perspective.

Nikhil Kaushik
Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon, Eye Unit, Wrexham Maelor Hospital

Graduate champion is welcome move

How nice to see a fresh new face in the form of Alison Hodgson, the new head
of the Association of Graduate Recruiters (News, 13 January). Great too that
she has the initiative and drive to champion graduate recruitment and encourage
it to become a profession in itself.

She is right in that practitioners have to build up the same level of
expertise and kudos as other specialisms with the HR field. As an employer
needing the next generation of top talent, I often find myself struggling with
up to 50 applications for every graduate job I advertise.

I cannot afford to make any recruitment mistakes (already, I’ve made a few),
and I need help and guidance to select the right graduate every time. Good
luck, Alison, in your new role. I hope to hear a lot more from you!

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Work dullards really don’t know Jack…

Hooray for Stephen Overell’s "Campaign for leisure" (Off Message,
20 January). The all work and no play culture in this country is a recipe for
great pools of very boring Jacks and Jills. Work topics tend to dominate most
"social" gatherings I attend.

And one of the most galling aspects of the "live to work"
philosophy most of my social circle seems to have adopted, is the management
jargon that seems to have crept into ordinary, everyday conversation.

I wholeheartedly embrace Stephen’s campaign but cannot pledge a donation at
this point, as I am saving for a well-earned sabbatical – which I have yet to

Now there’s a test in the making for my so-called progressive employer!

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